Robert Plant’s favourite songs reflect the most poignant moments from his life, a journey that begins with his teenage years and travels through to adulthood. Each track boasts a strong sentimental attachment to the singer, accompanying him throughout what has been a rollercoaster existence.
Plant has often spoken about the transformative impact that music had on his lonely childhood in the black country, and it managed to bring some light into what was previously a dreary existence. Music helped him to understand that there was more to the world than what he saw outside his window in Halesowen.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2007, the Led Zeppelin singer reflected upon his early years and described music as “a panacea and a mysterious release”. Detailing further, he continued: “It was otherworldly, another life outside Middle England in 1960 where it was all about endeavour, learning and making sure that all your vulnerabilities were not too evident so that you didn’t end up looking like a sobbing klutz”.
When Plant appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Tracks Of My Years, he was in a wistful mood and gave love to various songs that have all lit up his life, including one or two unexpected selections. His first selection is The Rolling Stones’ debut single, ‘Come On’. Although Plant was unaware of what was going on in London, this record helped open his eyes to not just what was going on in the capital, but also made him aware of the Delta blues scene that was building in popularity across America.
Plant also revealed that he was in attendance during The Stones’ debut package tour alongside Bo Diddley and Little Richard, which was a life-affirming night. He recalled: “We were all leaning towards that music. But nobody really had it down. I think in those days, The Stones were bringing the stone down the mountain. So that was really special”.
The next choice from the singer is somewhat of a surprise and comes courtesy of the late Cilla Black with ‘It’s For You’, a track which was given to the Liverpudlian by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It touched Plant immensely, and he admitted that “her voice and her gift as a singer stayed with me forever”.
Adding more to his list of favourites, Plant also selected ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’ by The Jeff Beck Group, which also featured Jimmy Page, who, of course, would go on to become Plant’s right-hand man in Led Zeppelin.
Elsewhere, the frontman also named Joni Mitchell’s track ‘Amelia’ and called her “the queen of all that beautiful music that was written around that time for the late ’60s on through”. Adding yet more praise to the folk icon, he added: “Her catalogue is incredible, and her concerts were really beautiful, incredibly moving. The whole Laurel Canyon music scene up there in Sunset Boulevard was something really special”.
Interestingly, Plant hinted that his favourite contemporary artist is the American singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff, and he named his track ‘And It’s Still Alright’. Explaining his decision, he said: “Well, Nathaniel is one of the really big strong new names in America. Also, he is a real great blue-eyed Soul singer and his new record, it’s just a killer. So he is a soulful guy, he is one of these guys that will just carry the torch. Beautiful songwriting, beautiful singing, great delivery and he is a magnificent guy to go with it”.
Listen to a playlist of Plant’s selections below.
Robert Plant’s favourite songs:
- The Rolling Stones – ‘Come On’
- Cilla Black – ‘It’s For You’
- Etta James – ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’
- Mary Wells – ‘You Beat Me To The Punch’
- Jeff Beck Group – ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’
- Love – ‘Alone Again Or’
- The Byrds – ‘Chestnut Mare’
- Joni Mitchell – ‘Amelia’
- Alison Krauss – ‘Down To The River To Pray’
- Nathaniel Rateliff – ‘And It’s Still Alright’